A team of surgeons collaborate to treat lung cancer

Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center Blog

Read the latest news, information and stories from Mayo Clinic's cancer experts and patients

The Mayo Clinic Lung Cancer Program is one of the country's largest and most experienced practices focused on lung cancer, mesotheliomas, thymomas and other chest (thoracic) cancers. Mayo Clinic's practice is integrated across the U.S., with programs in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota, and affiliated practices across the Midwest.

Mayo Clinic focuses a team of specialists on your needs. For instance, the program regularly conducts a Tumor Board meeting, where specialists discuss all complex medical cases currently under their care. In addition to experts in your specific disease, Mayo Clinic houses doctors and surgeons with expertise in virtually every medical specialty.

Having a multidisciplinary team of experts on your side means doctors can cater your care plan to address all of your health care needs, including other medical conditions you may have.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Chest (thoracic) malignancies, including lung cancer, have better outcomes when they're treated by a multidisciplinary team of experts. Mayo Clinic experts evaluate and treat thousands of people with chest cancers every year. A team of specialists examines your history and coordinates a quick yet thorough evaluation with access to the full range of modern diagnostics, including imaging, molecular testing, guided bronchoscopy, pleuroscopy and image-guided biopsy.

Your care team may include:

The thoracic tumor board meets regularly to discuss each new case

Multidisciplinary Tumor Board

Complex diseases need complex care

Multidisciplinary care provides important benefits for treatment planning for people with complex chest cancers (thoracic malignancies), including advanced-stage lung cancer, oligometastatic disease, multifocal lung cancer, mesothelioma and neuroendocrine tumors.

Regular review and discussion

The Mayo Clinic Lung Cancer Tumor Board — consisting of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and palliative care physicians — meets regularly to discuss new patients with chest cancers. These multidisciplinary experts discuss the best treatment strategies, then care providers share the results of the discussion with those receiving care.

Ongoing communication with you

Members of the integrated team communicate daily with members of the care team about care decisions. This constant collaboration means you have a team of experts reviewing your case and providing the most up-to-date treatment options, including enrollment in clinical trials if appropriate. If your needs require, your care team has the ability to communicate with you through telehealth.

Technicians assist a patient during a nuclear medicine scan

Advanced diagnosis and treatment of thoracic malignancies

At Mayo Clinic, specialists harness the latest diagnostic and treatment innovations and technology to ensure you get the best care possible. For instance, Mayo Clinic doctors have been instrumental in establishing a lifesaving lung cancer screening approach that uses low-dose CT scans to detect cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.

Mayo Clinic doctors are experts in the diagnosis and staging of thoracic malignancies. This is an essential first step in developing a care plan based on your exact condition. For example, lung cancer is a fairly generic term. However, there are different types of lung cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer — adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and others — and small cell lung cancer. Most recently it has become clear that there are many more subgroups of lung cancer than previously known, each with their own genetic and immunological makeup.

Mayo Clinic uses advanced laboratory techniques to determine a cancer's specific genotype, whether it's aggressive and whether it's early stage or advanced. Knowing exactly which type of lung cancer you have plays perhaps the most crucial role in your outcome, as Mayo Clinic specialists can use this information to tailor the best treatment plan to your unique lung cancer.

Oftentimes, ideal care plans for chest cancers involve a complex mix of treatment options, including surgery, radiation, molecularly targeted therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and cutting-edge clinical research trials.

Dr. Fernandez-Bussy reviews an image during a procedure.

Treatment options

  • Surgery To treat early-stage lung cancer, Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeons routinely use minimally invasive techniques, including video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and robotic surgery, which ensures you have the easiest recovery possible. Surgeons reduce invasiveness even more by removing the smallest amount of lung tissue necessary through procedures such as segmental resection, sleeve lobectomy and bilobectomy. Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeons operate on people with chest malignancies every day.
  • Radiation Radiation oncologists use the latest technology to carefully shape and precisely deliver radiation to your tumor while protecting as much healthy tissue in the heart and lung as possible. Targeted radiation treatments are available through stereotactic body radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy, image-guided radiation therapy and cutting-edge intensity-modulated proton beam therapy. These techniques can be used for either early-stage disease or advanced disease and have been shown to reduce the risk of side effects and improve outcomes.
  • Immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and other medicines Most people are familiar with the concept of chemotherapy to treat cancer. However, Mayo Clinic oncologists use a variety of systemic treatments, including molecularly targeted therapy and cutting-edge immunotherapy. They select the treatment depending on your needs and use many factors, including the genetic and immunological makeup of your tumor.
  • Clinical trials Mayo Clinic doctors are constantly trying to identify better and more effective therapeutic options for thoracic malignancies. Mayo Clinic is one of 50 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers and initiates and participates in many clinical trials. This gives Mayo Clinic patients access to some of the most promising new treatment approaches for chest cancers. Research shows that people who participate in clinical trials have better outcomes than those who do not.
  • Symptom control and palliative care Mayo Clinic has a comprehensive program to provide symptom control and palliative care to people with thoracic malignancies. This includes an active interventional pulmonary program providing airway and pleural interventions, such as airway debulking and stents, and the outpatient placement of intrapleural catheters.
July 18, 2023